L&T Motorsport

WTCC: Honda Conquer the Green Hell in Qualifying

Sixteen TC1 cars took to one of the most famous circuits in the world for qualifying. The Nordschleife, also known as the green hell was the site for this weekend’s racing. Rising track temperatures would start to play havoc with the drivers, dropping the pace from FP2 where Nicky Catsburg setting an 8:34 lap.

It would be Rob Huff that would set the early pace around the near 26km circuit setting the pace at 8.42.541. What was amazing would be how close the chasing pack would be, with the top 6 separated by just 2 seconds. Thed Bjork would provisionally put his Volvo into p2, just 0.131 s behind the Citroen. Nestor Girolami would hit problems, taking a huge jump over the vicious kerbs, dislodging his front splitter and radiator. Despite that, he still managed to set a time good enough for seventh fastest just 2 seconds behind Huff. While all the field returned to the pits for a change of tyres, new boy Aurelien Panis headed off for another lap, managing to shave his time down to an 8:53.933.

On their second run, it looked to be Nicky Catsburg and his Volvo that was flying, setting fastest sector after fastest sector. He brought his Volvo around the 26km circuit in 8:38.680, shaving 3.8s off the current pole time, while still claiming there was time to find in his Volvo. Thed Bjork would then pop his sister Volvo into second position briefely before the Honda duo would push him down to fourth. The Hondas would get close to Catsburg, but Michelisz would be 7 tenths behind with Monteiro another 7 tenths behind him. Huff would improve his time, but it was only good enough for fifth.

Further down the field, the battle for race 1 pole was hotting up. Esteban Guerrieri was sat in 10th with Ryo Michigami poised just 4 tenths behind. It would see Nestor Girolami joining Guerrieri on the front row for race 1. But most drivers had 1 lap left to complete. There would be issues for Huff as he came up for his final flying lap, a clutch issue brought his Citroen to a halt at the GP loop’s hairpin.

The final lap would see Nicky Catsburg and Norbert Michelisz to trade fastest sector times, the battle would come to an end as Catsburg would drop 9 seconds in the final sector. Catsburg complaining of a tyre failure, something that has plagued the WTCC this weekend. Michelisz would have no such problem, going fastest with 3.38.072, beating Catsburg by 0.6s. Huff would improve to third, 1.469 off pole which would leave Tiago Monteiro to start 4th. This would leave Volvo to claim race 1 pole with Nestor Girolami starting in 10th, he will have Esteban Guerrieri’s Chevrolet alongside him.

Qualifying top 10

1 – Norbert Michelisz – Honda – 8:38.072
2 – Nicky Catsburg – Volvo – 8:38.680
3 – Rob Huff – Citroen – 8:39.541
4 – Tiago Monteiro – Honda – 8:40.202
5 – Thed Bjork – Volvo – 8:40.996
6 – Tom Chilton – Citroen – 8:42.356
7 – Tom Coronel – Chevrolet – 8:43.393
8 – Mehdi Bennani – Citroen – 8:43.533
9 – Esteban Guerrieri – Chevrolet – 8:43.689
10 – Nestor Girolami – Volvo – 8:44.630

Words: @Wa10Tom
Image: FIA

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